For Immediate Release: November 19, 2012

Suffolk County Update: Health Advisory; Water Concerns; FEMA STEP Program

Long Island Press Releases

Suffolk County Update; November 19, 2012 8:00 P.M.; Updated information included: 

  • Suffolk County Department of Health Services Advisory:
  • Drinking Water Concerns;
  • New Details of the FEMA STEP Program;
  • Updated Immunization Schedule Provides More Dates for Tots, First Responders, Volunteers & Personnel;
  • National Oil Heat Research Alliance Flood Damage Oil Appliance Check List;
  • Reminder: FEMA Disaster Assistance Recovery Centers Will Be Open Thanksgiving Day (Except Lindenhurst.)

HOTLINE: Suffolk’s Office of Emergency Management Hot-line staffed 8:00a.m. & 5:00p.m. (631) 852-4900 for information and assistance on disaster-related issues.

NEW: Suffolk County Department of Health Services Advisory:  Drinking Water Concerns

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS) has collected and analyzed approximately 136 samples from various public water supply systems throughout Suffolk County to ensure the bacteriological quality of the county’s drinking water. All major public water supply systems, serving a population of approximately 1,364,000 on the mainland of Suffolk County, havenot reported any service disruptions and the water has been safe for potable use throughout the duration of the storm and its aftermath.

Immediately following the storm, water supplied by 29 small water supply systems was deemed not safe for consumption due to potential water service disruption that increases risk from contaminants such as bacteria. Residents served by these systems, most of them on Fire Island, were advised to avoid using tap water directly for potable purposes until further notice. In the interim, recommended alternatives included certified bottled water or, where possible, bringing water to a rolling boil for at least one minute. To date 23 boil-water advisories have been lifted. There are currently sixwater systems that are still under boil water advisories. SCDHS is in the process of notifying system operators and attempting to collect follow-up samples. For additional information, residents should contact their water suppliers or SCDHS at (631) 854-0093.

FEMA Disaster Recovery Assistance Centers

NEW: Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Program /Suffolk Residents Call 2-1-1

(See attached document for more info.) [PDF}

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in conjunction with state, local and tribal partners, is implementing a Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Program to help people get back into their homes quickly and safely.

STEP Assists State, local and tribal governments in performing work and services essential to saving lives, protecting public health and safety, and protecting property. The program funds certain necessary and essential measures to help restore power, heat and hot water to primary residences that could regain power through necessary and essential repairs. STEP can help residents safely shelter-in-place in their homes pending more permanent repairs.

The FEMA Disaster Recovery Assistance Centers will be OPEN Thanksgiving, 900 a.m. Noon. EXCEPT for Lindenhurst Center. Regular Hours are 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Seven Days a Week, except for the shortened Thanksgiving Day schedule.

In an effort to provide easy access to a variety of local and federal benefits and services, County Executive Bellone has established five emergency Disaster Recovery Assistance Centers in collaboration with FEMA where residents can go for information about FEMA and other disaster assistance programs. FEMA representatives are on hand to assist residents in filling out FEMA applications, answer any questions and provide lists of resources. Additionally, there are also Small Business representatives, as well as representatives of other County and State departments providing services to disaster survivors, including County representatives from the offices of the Departments of Health, Economic Development, Labor, Social Services, and Transitional Housing.

NEW: Suffolk Department of Health Services Offering FREE Vaccination Clinics at FEMA DRCs this week.NEW updated schedule. Please see NEW hours for this week (11/19 - 11/25) for the SCDHS Free Adult Vaccination Clinics at the Disaster Recovery Assistance Centers.

FREE Tetanus and Influenza immunizations will be provided for first responders, volunteers and personnel responding to storm aftermath, and residents who have been affected by Super Storm Sandy. This week's immunization schedule at the DRCs for adults only is listed below. Please check the schedule as days and hours vary by site.

In addition, later in this update, please see schedule for "Shots for Tots" Program providing immunization for children. The DHS will also offer tetanus and influenza immunizations for adults at the "Shots for Tots" sites.

H. Lee Dennison – 100 Vet’s Highway, Hauppauge

SC Vaccine Hours: Friday / 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Islip Town Annex – 400 Main Street, Islip

SC Vaccine Hours: Tuesday / 5:00 - 8:00 p.m., Friday / 5:00 - 8:00 p.m., Sunday / 2:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Lindenhurst Public Library – 1 Lee Street, Lindenhurst

SC Vaccine Hours: Tuesday / 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Wednesday / 5:00 - 8:00 p.m., Friday / 5:00 - 8:00 p.m., Saturday / 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Sunday / 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Mastic Recreation Center – 15 Herkimer St, Mastic

SC Vaccine Hours: Tuesday / 5:00 - 8:00 p.m., Wednesday / 5:00 - 8:00 p.m., Saturday / 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Suffolk County Center – 300 Center Drive, Riverhead

SC Vaccine Hours: Wednesday / 5:00 - 8:00 p.m., Sunday / 9:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Suffolk Department of Health Services (DHS) "Shots for Tots"

  • Immunization Action Program for Children NEW DATES ADDED

Immunization Clinics for Children are available FREE of charge through the Suffolk County Department of Health Services "Shots for Tots" progam.  This program provides all CDC recommended immunizations to children. Please bring your child’s immunization record with you. SCDHS is also offering tetanus and influenza immunizations at these venues to adults affected by Super Storm Sandy.

  1. Tuesday, November 20, 2012, Longwood Public Library, 3:00 - 6:15 p.m., 800 Middle Country Road, Middle Island, New York 11953
  2. Tuesday, November 27, 2012, Sachem Library, 3:00 - 6:15 p.m., 150 Holbrook Road, Holbrook, New York 11741
  3. Wednesday, November 28, 2012, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., 9 Clinton Ave. & Main St., Bay Shore, NY 11706
  4. Tuesday, December 4, 2012, Middle Country Library, 3:00 - 6:15 p.m, 575 Middle Country Road, Selden, NY 11784
  5. Wednesday, December 5, 2012, Pronto of Long Island, 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., 128 Pine Aire Drive, Bay Shore, New York 11706
  6. Tuesday, December 18, 2012, Longwood Public Library, 3:00 - 6:15 p.m., 800 Middle Country Road, Middle Island, New York 11953

NEW: National Oil Heat Research Alliance: Flood Damage Oil Appliance Check List Because so many things can go wrong as a result of flood water it's usually cheaper and always safer to replace, rather than repair.  Residents can replace one component, but there may be damage to other parts of the unit, like venting, piping, burners and insulation.  Many things can go wrong.  The wise choice is always to start over with new equipment.

See attached NORA check list. [PDF]

A Recap of Other Important FEMA Information

Super Storm  Sandy Survivors Should Return SBA Disaster Loan Applications to Keep Options Open

NEW YORK — Federal Emergency Management Agency grants are not the only disaster assistance option for Hurricane Sandy survivors. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s low-interest disaster loan program is another important source of assistance for homeowners, renters and businesses.

While some people prefer to avoid borrowing money to cover disaster-related expenses, additional unforeseen costs can arise down the road, leaving them without enough money to cover all expenses.

Additional financial gaps that may occur include:

  • Insurance not covering all repair or rebuilding costs;
  • Discovering disaster-related damage costs are more than the initial estimate; and
  • Finding additional damages.

For additional information please visit http://www.fema.gov/news-release/hurricane-sandy-survivors-should-return-sba-disaster-loan-applications-keep-options

FEMA Denials

Residents who applied for assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, (FEMA) may have received letters from FEMA stating their application has been denied.

The denial letters are based on information given at the time of application or inspection and may not be the final decision. The main reasons why residents may receive a denial letter are either the home sustained insufficient damage or the home had insurance.

Applicants may not be eligible for housing assistance simply because, at the time of inspection, more information was needed. Applicants need not be discouraged. The denial letter is not the final word. Also, more than one form of housing assistance may still be available.

In any case, if the applicant does not agree with the decision, they have the right to appeal within 60 days of the denial letter, explain in writing why they disagree with FEMA’s decision and provide any new or additional information and documents supporting their appeal.

The Helpline is the same number you used to register: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). If you were denied assistance, because you were insured, consider calling FEMA after your insurance claim is settled.

By law, FEMA cannot duplicate what insurance already covers, or pay deductibles. However, in some cases, they may be able to help, up to the extent of program limits. The only way to know is to register at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). If you receive a letter from FEMA stating that a claim for federal assistance has been deemed ineligible because of insurance you should contact your insurance agent and request a settlement letter.

Questions regarding flood insurance policies are handled through the National Flood Insurance Program Helpline at 1-800-638-6620.

Regardless of the status of the denial letter for Housing Assistance, applicants may still be eligible for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and other state and federal programs including disaster unemployment assistance, legal aid, crisis counseling, USDA food stamp assistance, USDA rural housing and veteran assistance.

1-800-621-FEMA (3362)

What Information Do I Need to Apply?

Whether applying online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov from your computer or smart phone, or over the phone through a FEMA call center, you should have a pen and paper and the following information ready:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Current and pre-disaster address
  • A telephone number where you can be contacted
  • Insurance information
  • Total household annual income
  • A routing and account number from your bank (only necessary if you want to have disaster assistance funds transferred directly into your bank account) your bank routing number is located on the lower left side of your bank checks immediately before your account number.
  • A description of your losses that were caused by the disaster

After you’ve completed your application for assistance, you will be given a FEMA application number. Write down this number and keep it for future reference.

Immediately following the storm, water supplied by 29 small water supply systems was deemed not safe for consumption due to potential water service disruption that increases risk from contaminants such as bacteria. Residents served by these systems, most of them on Fire Island, were advised to avoid using tap water directly for potable purposes until further notice. In the interim, recommended alternatives included certified bottled water or, where possible, bringing water to a rolling boil for at least one minute. To date 23 boil-water advisories have been lifted. There are currently water six systems that are still under boil water advisories. SCDHS is in the process of notifying system operators and attempting to collect follow-up samples. For additional information, residents should contact their water suppliers or SCDHS at (631) 854-0093.

Suffolk County Department of Health Services Information & Health Advisories

Guidance for Homeowners with Private Wells Affected by Floodwaters

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services has updated it’s guidance to homeowners whose private wells were affected by floodwaters as a result of the storm. Health officials advise that homeowners test for bacteriological contaminants (total coliform and E.Coli), and inorganic compounds (e.g. nitrates, nitrites, chlorides) at minimum. Additional testing may be required depending upon site specific conditions (e.g. stored solvents, pesticides, gas cans, etc.).

Prior to having their water tested, homeowners are advised to have their wells assessed, repaired (if necessary), and disinfected by a licensed well driller or other competent professional. The New York State Department of Health advises that if fuel oil contamination is suspected (e.g. notable petroleum odor or evidence of petroleum product in close proximity to the well) then an analysis for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) should initially be performed to rule out potential impacts prior to disinfection and sampling. This analysis is also suggested for private wells in communities which were flooded and are known to have been heavily impacted by fuel spills. If residents are in doubt they should seek advice from a qualified professional. In addition, if you believe your well may be contaminated by petroleum, please report this to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Spill Hotline at 1-800-457-7362.

Residential Oil Spills and Flooding “Residential Oil Spills and Flooding” is available from New York State. If your home has been affected by a flood that caused an oil spill in or near your home, you should contact the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Spill Hotline immediately at 1-800-457-7362 to report the spill. In some cases the oil is mixed with the water that has flooded your home. If so, DO NOT pump the water out into your yard. The oil may spread and contaminate other areas including nearby wells, water bodies and homes. Oil spills can contaminate indoor air. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is providing this information to help with this problem. If you have questions, call the toll-free number at 1-800-458-1158, extension 2810. After hours and on weekends, call 1-866-881-2809.

Mental Health Needs

Those residents who are feeling undue stress or anxiety as a result of Super Storm Sandy should be aware that there are resources available to them. They are encouraged to seek out personnel representing the Suffolk County Department of Health Services and/or the New York State Office of Mental Health at the FEMA centers. These personnel will direct them to the appropriate resources. Alternatively, they can call (631) 853-8500.

Suffolk County Water Authority Reminder 

The Suffolk County Water Authority suggests its customers, particularly those who expect to have their power and heat off for an extended period of time in the aftermath of Sandy, contact SCWA and have their water turned off temporarily to prevent pipes from freezing. All water restoration fees will be waived for SCWA customers who call between today and December 1 to have their water turned off, irrespective of when they turn their water back on. Call the SCWA Customer Service call center at (631) 698-9500. According to SCWA, homeowners turning off water need to make arrangements to have their pipes and fixtures drained to prevent them from being damaged by any remaining water in the pipes freezing.

EPA, State & County:  Household Hazardous WastePickup & Drop-Off in Suffolk County

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Suffolk County will collect and properly dispose of potentially hazardous common household products from flood-damaged homes in Suffolk County. Beginning on Nov. 12, people in affected homes may bring household products, including solvents, paints, cleaners, oil, propane tanks, batteries, petroleum products, weed/bug killers, car batteries, bleach and ammonia, to one of four drop-off locations. In addition, starting on Nov. 12, residents of surrounding towns can put waste products on the curb for pickup.

The drop-off and pickup locations are listed below:

  • Venetian Shores Park, 801 Granada Parkway, Lindenhurst, NY
  • Islip Multipurpose Recycling Facility, 1155 Lincoln Avenue, Holbrook, NY
  • Wastewater Treatment Plant, 1 Hammond Street, Patchogue, NY
  • Highway Barn, 1177 Osborn Road, Riverhead, NY

Suffolk County Businesses

Provide Emergency Sales Tax Relief to Small Businesses for Super Storm Sandy Reconstruction Efforts

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk County IDA announced an emergency sales tax relief program to ease the costs of reconstructing Suffolk County’s small businesses.

The program provides relief from state and local sales tax on building materials such as windows, sheet rock, flooring and electrical as well as on equipment a business needs to replace that was damaged by the storm.

The program will provide sales tax relief for purchase of building materials and for the repurchase of equipment of up to $100,000 in purchase costs. There will be 200 businesses eligible for the program. A business must have 25 or fewer full-time employees to participate.

When a small business owner takes advantage of the IDA’s relief program, the agency will facilitate discussions between them and the Town they operate in. The Town will be able to communicate directly with the business to determine if there are any issues they can develop solutions for.
Small business owners who have had their place of business damaged by Super Storm Sandy are urged to fill out a relief form at www.SuffolkIDA.org. Questions are asked to be directed to 631-853-4802 or email them to: info@suffolkida.org.

Suffolk County Small Business Assistance Resource Centers

Suffolk County, through its Departments of Economic Development/Planning and Labor, is offering access to computers, printers and fax machines for businesses that need access to office equipment in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy.

Locations:

  • SC Department of Labor-725 Veterans Memorial Highway, Hauppauge, NY-Monday-Friday-8:30am-4:00pm
  • SC Department of Labor-300 Center Drive, Riverhead, NY-Monday-Friday-8:30am-4:00pm

American Red Cross Toll Free Number to Call for Food Distribution Sites, Shelters & Other Red Cross Assistance

Those needing information about emergency shelteringcan seek assistance and placement through the Suffolk County Department of Social Services (DSS) representatives at any of the Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) (see list below), or by calling1 (877)733–2767. This (800) number operated by the Greater NY chapter of the American Red Cross also provides information for ARC food distribution locations, and other services.

Department of Social Services

During the weeks following Super Storm Sandy, Suffolk County, in cooperation with the American Red Cross and FEMA, has ensured that no one in Suffolk County has to go homeless. Because, the Red Cross provides disaster relief, anyone who has lost housing due to Sandy and may need emergency sheltering should call the Red Cross at 1 (877) 733-2767. For those who have lost housing for any OTHER reason, please go directly to your Department of Social Services office during business hours. After 4:30 p.m., please call (631) 854-9100 for assistance.

Other Health Advisory Updates from Suffolk Department of Health Services

Simple Preventive Measures to Stop the Spread of Germs; Rid Home of Mold

Commissioner of Health Services Dr. Tomarken also recommends that those residents who have been displaced from their homes and are living in close proximity elsewhere, and who may not be able to receive immunizations from their normal providers, protect themselves from influenza by receiving the flu immunization.

Residents are reminded that they can stop the spread of germs by following some simple preventive steps:

  • Cover your mouth & nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; put used tissue in the waste basket.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water (or an alcohol-based hand rub) for 20 seconds.
  • Wear a facemask.

Attached is a one-page depiction of these guidelines. [PDF]

Health officials encourage officials involved in disaster recovery efforts to post these guidelines widely.

Rid Home of Mold

Residents who have moved back into homes that have been flooded will need to rid their homes of mold, which can make them sick. Things that stayed wet for two days will have mold growing on them, even if you can’t see it.

Health officials advise that you throw out items made of cloth, unless you can wash them in hot water. Also remove items that can’t be cleaned easily (leather, paper, wood and carpet).

Use bleach to clean mold off hard surfaces and objects such as floors, stoves, sinks, toys, counter tops, plates & tools.

Follow these steps:

  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners.
  • Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, goggles, and N-95 mask.
  • Open windows and doors to get fresh air when or use bleach.
  • Mix no more than one cup of bleach in one gallon of water.
  • Wash the item with the bleach and water mixture.
  • If the surface of the item is rough, scrub the surface with a stiff brush.
  • Rinse the item with clean water.
  • Dry the item or leave it out to dry.

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